Book Review of "Soldier’s Home" By Hemingway
In "Soldier’s Home", the protagonist, Krebs, returned to his hometown from war lagging years behind others. When he arrived, the enthusiastic receiving ceremony had long been finished.
Krebs was precipitated into an existential crisis soon after his return. He initially avoided talking about war, but then felt compelled to confess in order to relieve his inner burdens, only to discover that no one was attentive. "At first Krebs…did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. "
People in the town, fed up with tons of war actualities and atrocities, thinking they had learned enough about the war, were desperately hoping to be back on track. While Krebs, paradoxically, found that he could not hook people on the topic of war without lying or exaggeration. In doing so, he was disgusted with himself and again fell into self-hatred and internal collapse.
Lives in town seem unchanged, except for girls’ haircuts and clothing fashions. He knew he could never fit into this side of the world again after being ejected to another parallel and non-intersecting trajectory.
Though he awfully wanted to get rid of the lonesome status quo, he was unable to take the responsibility of marrying a girl or even get involved in a relationship. Since girls in the army were disposable, "love" meant little more than instant sexual fulfillment for soldiers.
"When he was in town, their appeal to him was not very strong. He did not want them themselves really. They were too complicated. There was something else. Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to work to get her. He would have liked to have a girl but he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her. He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did not want to have to do any courting. He did not want to tell any more lies. It wasn’t worth it." "He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences." "Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and not wanted to talk. But here at home it was all too complicated. He knew he could never get through it all again. It was not worth the trouble."
These phrases, written in identical patterns except for a little inflections, are like monologues of a disoriented person, delusional and morbidly verbose, acting like ruffled waves, one after another, pounding the readers’ hearts.
"Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to work to get her." is just plainly telling the fact that "he wanted a girl," yet it was followed by "He would have liked to have a girl but he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her." which strengthened Krebs’ remorse in a subjunctive mood.
The author then goes on to say, "He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. " This sentence makes clear of Krebs' perception, in which he was convinced that the world is full of pitfalls and he didn’t want to be caught up again.
The war had reshaped his world, which no one would understand or even be interested in. He, now becoming a walking wasteland, was infertile both physically and psychologically, and had seen through the illusion of life the very truth of existentialism.
Hemingway is so excel at this kind of writing that he entrenched all the complexities and opacity of his thinking in its seeming blandness.
In an effort to bring her son back to normal, Krebs’ mother had a candid conversation with him. In response to her pleading, Krebs consented to get a job and marry a girl, yet we all know that he can never be normal again. Though the soldier was home, he could never find a shelter for his shattered soul. In this case, the title "Soldier’s Home" creates a stark irony.
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